The next toilet paper? New hobbies setting record sales thanks to pandemic ‘boredom’

CALGARY — At Spruce It Up Garden Centre, spring never ended.

Garden supplies are just one warm weather item selling at a record clip as pandemic-fatigued Calgarians look for ways to branch out.

That’s good news for owner Meryl Coombs.

“Last year was our best year ever, and last month it was probably double or triple the amount (of sales) it was the same month the year before,” he said.

The number of gardening hobbyists exploded in 2020.

It was one appealing activity for those experiencing “boredom,” as Coombs put it.

That excess of time led to a lot of new planters.

“It’s brought in so many new gardeners. The demographics we have come in through our store is amazing,” Coombs said.

While he’s confident his supply can hold, that’s not the case with every new hobby.

Bicycles, also seeing a resurgence, are selling out across the country. That’s leading to issues with the chain because manufacturers just can’t keep up.

That same stress is being felt in everything from home improvement products to electronics.

Firewood is also being hit hard. Suppliers say the summer could be a long one.

“Sales in firewood went up exponentially,” Pierce Achtymichuk with Maverick Canada said. “Honestly, it was just like the toilet paper scenario.”

The pandemic drove up sales, helped along by more backyard gatherings and camping trips.

But Achtymichuk says that’s just the tip of iceberg.

“Last year was a wet one, which didn’t help,” he told CTV News. “The depth of the problem is not going away.”

He believes many consumers, getting desperate for product, are paying inflated prices as the market shifts.

His advice is the same as most experts. Whether it’s for plants, bikes or lumber: check in early and often before making any purchasing trips.

Even though it’s not officially spring, it may feel like it.

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